“For God has not given us a spirit of fear, but of power and love and a sound mind.” (2 Timothy 1:7)
This statement is only true for born again believers in Jesus Christ. First of all, humanity is in bondage “through fear of death” (Hebrews 2:15), and the only way to escape this bondage and fear is by faith in Christ’s atoning work on Calvary, resulting in the receiving of His Spirit in a new birth (John 3:5-7). “For you did not receive the spirit of bondage again to fear, but you received the Spirit of adoption by whom we cry out, ‘Abba, Father.’” (Romans 8:15) When we know we belong to God, then we can confidently say: “Yea, though I walk through the valley of the shadow of death, I will fear no evil; for You are with me; Your rod (Word) and Your staff (Spirit) comfort me.” (Psalm 23:4)
Secondly, God does not intend for His children to live in fear or anxiety, but in peace. Consider the following scriptures: “Look, the LORD your God has set the land before you; go up and possess it, as the LORD God of your fathers has spoken to you; do not fear or be discouraged.” (Deuteronomy 1:21) (Remember, saints, the Promised Land of the Old Testament is a typology, a physical picture, of the Spirit-filled, abundant life revealed in the New Testament – John 10:10b.) “Today you are on the verge of battle with your enemies. Do not let your heart faint, do not be afraid, and do not tremble or be terrified because of them” (Deuteronomy 20:3). “Have I not commanded you? Be strong and of good courage; do not be afraid, nor be dismayed, for the LORD your God is with you wherever you go.” (Joshua 1:9) “Do not fear, for I am with you; do not anxiously look about you, for I am your God. I will strengthen you, surely I will help you, surely I will uphold you with My righteous right hand.” (Isaiah 41:10) “Fear not, little flock, for it is your Father’s good pleasure to give you the kingdom.” (Luke 12:32) “Peace I leave with you, My peace I give to you; not as the world gives do I give to you. Let not your heart be troubled, neither let it be afraid.” (John 14:27) “Be anxious for nothing, but in everything by prayer and supplication, with thanksgiving, let your requests be made known to God; and the peace of God, which transcends all understanding, will guard your hearts and minds through Christ Jesus.” (Philippians 4:6-7)
Do you recognize the “spirit of fear” that this world is constantly presenting, continually promoting, and repeatedly using in preying upon our minds just through ‘news’ coverage, for example? Consider: there have been innumerable health scares and crises, not to mention the wars on poverty, terror, and others, as well as the threat of ‘global climate change’, the rising cost of just about everything, violent crime, etc., etc.! Indeed, there are many things to be anxious about and fearful of and frightened over in this world, but Jesus tells us that He has overcome this world; therefore, we can have peace (John 16:33). How? Not by ignoring reality or denying legitimate concerns and dangers, but by confronting them in faith and by the power of God. Faith in God, in His wisdom, power, and goodness, dispels our fears of the unknown and of evil. While He walked this earth Jesus performed all His miracles, taught the crowds and confronted the religious leaders, suffered and surrendered His life at the hands of ungodly men, through faith in His Father and in the power of the Holy Spirit. He was not well-pleasing to His Father because He was behaving as God, but because He was living obediently as a Spirit-filled man. These same gifts of faith (Romans 12:3), which comes through hearing the Word of God (Romans 10:17), and the empowerment by God the Holy Spirit (Luke 11:13), are available to every born again believer in Jesus Christ (Acts 2:33,38,39)!
Thus, the spirit “of power, love, and a sound mind” given to believers is the Holy Spirit of God indwelling us. “Greater is He who is in you than he who is in the world.” (1 John 4:4) Mightier and wiser is the LORD in us than our adversary the devil, so we needn’t fear him. (Nor are we to be ignorant of him – 2 Corinthians 2:11.) Furthermore, we do not have to be afraid of failure, because the Spirit of the living God working in us is far superior to our own limited spiritual and physical existence in this world. In fact, the “power” that believers receive from God is “dunamis” in the Greek – from whence comes our word “dynamite” – and it means, “force; spec. miraculous power (usually by impl. a miracle itself); ability, abundance, might, strength”. This is resurrection power, as shown in 1 Corinthians 6:14: “And God both raised up the Lord and will also raise us up by His power (dunamis).” We need this empowerment because we are at war with the enemy of our souls! “Finally, my brethren, be strong in the Lord and in the power of His might. Put on the whole armor of God, that you may be able to stand against the wiles of the devil. For we wrestle not against flesh and blood, but against principalities, against powers, against the rulers of the darkness of this age, against spiritual hosts of wickedness in the heavenly places. Therefore take up the whole armor of God, that you may be able to withstand in the evil day” (Ephesians 6:10-13). Every piece of armor that we put on (truth, righteousness, peace, faith, salvation, living Word – Ephesians 6:14-17) is Jesus, and comes to us by His Spirit. Furthermore, the weapons of God’s powerful Word (Hebrews 4:12) and intercessory prayer (Ephesians 6:18) are for the purpose of tearing down strongholds and waging war against all that would keep us from Christ. “For though we walk in the flesh, we do not war according to the flesh. For the weapons of our warfare are not carnal but mighty (same root word in Greek as dunamis) in God for pulling down strongholds, casting down arguments and every high thing that exalts itself against the knowledge of God, bringing every thought into captivity to the obedience of Christ” (2 Corinthians 10:3-5).
The Spirit who empowers and protects us in war is also the Spirit of “love” (“agape”). Love was the power that held the Son of God on Calvary’s cross, not the nails (John 3:16; 1 John 4:9,10). Unreserved, sacrificial, unrelenting love (1 Corinthians 13:4-8a) is the essence, the core of God’s nature (1 John 4:8). “By this we know that we abide in Him and He in us, because He has given us of His Spirit. And we have known and believed the love that God has for us. God is love, and he who abides in love abides in God, and God in him. There is no fear in love; but perfect love casts out fear” (1 John 4:13,16,18). Almighty God is for us (Romans 8:31b); He has nothing but good plans for His children (Jeremiah 29:11); and absolutely NOTHING in existence can keep His love from us (Romans 8:38-39)! Knowing and believing these truths will dispel our anxieties and fears!
Lastly, the “sound mind” that completes the trilogy of God’s provision to enable us to combat fear is disciplined, not chaotic. It is a “renewed” mind (Ephesians 4:23), now capable of dealing with reality based upon a growing knowledge of God and His will. “And do not be conformed to this world, but be transformed by the renewing of your mind, that you may prove what is that good and acceptable and perfect will of God.” (Romans 12:2) The Greek word translated “sound mind” also means “self control”. However, this does not mean that ‘self’ is in control, but rather that the believer’s ‘self’ is under the control of God’s Spirit within. “For … those who live according to the Spirit set their minds on the things of the Spirit. To set the mind … on the Spirit is life and peace.” (Romans 8:5,6)
Why is it so important that God’s children not be ruled by fear? Because fear is not of faith, and “whatever is not of faith is sin” (Romans 14:23), which hinders our fellowship with God. Therefore, we have the God-given capacity and enabling to reject fear and to choose to operate in God’s Spirit of power, love, and mental soundness.
“These things I have spoken to you, that in Me you may have peace. In the world you will have tribulation; but be of good cheer, I have overcome the world.” (John 16:33) “Do not be afraid; only believe” (Luke 8:50).